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Veterans train to fight child exploitation

Updated: Thursday, August 21 2014, 01:39 AM CDT
HOUSTON- by Haley Bull

Children are often the most vulnerable victims of crimes, including online sexual abuse. Last year, Homeland Security Investigations identified more than 900 victims and arrested more than 2,000 child predators.

HSI, the National Association to Protect Children and U.S. Special Operations Command are teaming up to teach veterans how to fight a new battle against online predators.

"Everyone joins the military, they want to do the mission, they want to you know protect this country," veteran Glenn Devitt said.

He was in the military for about ten years, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, but injuries over time forced him into medical retirement.

"I injured my neck and back and I ruptured my quad so the military told me I can stay behind a desk or get out so I decided I'd go into a new career field," Devitt said.

His new career field includes protecting and rescuing children.

"I think it could be even more rewarding 'cuz this is our future generations that we're raising that hopefully you know that we can save," Devitt said. "So there's a lot of guys in the class that have some serious injuries and I look up to them you know, that get shot in the head, get blown up and they're able to still do this job, so I mean they motivate me."

Now, he's motivated for a different battle, hunting online predators. Devitt is one of 17 wounded, injured or ill veterans training for a new mission with Homeland Security Investigations as part of the HERO Child-Rescue Corps internship.

"We're training them in the field of digital forensics or computer forensics, that's how to exploit a computer or mobile device in order to extract evidence," Cardell Morant, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for HSI in Houston said. "We're gonna train them in child exploitation investigations, what we look for, victim identification, which we use in order to identify and rescue victims of these crimes."

The crime reaches across the world, across the country to right here in Southeast Texas.

"There's nothing more sinister than those who prey on the most innocent among us which are our children," Morant said.

In August 2013, a judge sentenced a Beaumont man after he plead guilty to possessing child pornography. Investigators found more than 100 images and nearly 60 videos.

Just this past June, a former youth pastor from Newton plead guilty to producing child pornography.

"Who better to hunt predators than men trained to hunt terrorists and so now they have a new mission, they're gonna rescue kids," Camille Cooper with the National Association to Protect Children said. "They were the guys that sought out the terrorists and hunted them down and captured them and when they became wounded, ill or injured they sort of lost their mission in life, their purpose in life and so this gives them a new mission."

"I military you go to war, there's a gray area," Devitt said. "But child crimes, I mean it's black and white. There's good and there's evil."

Now, the veterans have a new mission and new battle against cyber crimes.

When the veterans are done with their training in Houston, they'll spend two months at HSI's Cyber Crimes Center, then begin on-the-job training at HSI offices across the country.
Veterans train to fight child exploitation


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